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WVU Libraries Historical Database Surpasses 21,000 Images

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
July 9th, 2007

The Dominion Post, July 5, 2007

Looking for a hard-to-find photograph from West Virginia’s past – a picture of basketball legend Jerry West, the last game at the Field House or perhaps construction of the old Mountaineer Stadium?

Try the WVU Libraries online database, West Virginia History OnView (go to the WVU Libraries home page at www.libraries.wvu.edu, and click on the West Virginia History OnView link at the bottom right of the page).

OnView, which provides Web-based access to digital versions of historical photos housed in the West Virginia and Regional History Collection, recently topped 21,000 digital images.  The database continues to grow in popularity, WVU Libraries officials said. It’s even caught the attention of bloggers.

“People are finding out about us because we’ve been discovered by the blogs,” said Dennis Newborn, head of systems for the WVU Libraries.

The largest boost came recently from an online source called The Scout Report, which highlights new and interesting sites.  A favorable review from the report in late April translated into a huge spike in traffic to West Virginia History OnView in May.  The WVU site recorded nearly 45,000 visits that month.

There have been about 300,000 visitors since the site launched in 2005.

The database has also been mentioned in a guide to digital collections put out by the University of New Hampshire and blogs such as Word-Press.com and Technorati.com.

Several sports bloggers have become fans of the OnView site because it contains numerous historic sports images, WVU Libraries officials said.

For example, sports enthusiasts can browse through pictures of the university’s basketball and football teams from over the years.  There are action shorts from games, player and team portraits, and pictures of facilities.

Along with athletics, subjects range from the coal and timber industries to daily life in communities across West Virginia in the past century.  Many visitors use the site to reminisce over photos showing the shops, restaurants and attractions that once lined the main streets of their hometowns.  Those living in West Virginia or who have a connection with the state will find many items of interest on the site.

“As a West Virginian who now lives in northern Arizona, West Virginia History OnView provides me with an instant link to my roots,” said Mike Blevins, who relocated last year to Sedona, Ariz. “I’ve shared the Web site with many of my friends and family.”

He said the historic photos intrigue him because they convey rich stories about the people, places and things shown.  What might look like simple shot of people standing outside of a building or gathering for a meal actually hints at what life was like for the average West Virginia back then.

“I strongly believe that every image we preserve from out past will be of keen interest to the future,” Blevins said.

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